28 January 2010


I'm thinking of buying an eBook reader. This would be my latest step into the 21st century.

What do you think, dear blog readers? Should I do it? Are the devices easy to read and use? Are there really enough books available in these formats to make the investment worthwhile? Should I wait until the technology develops further, to avoid buyers' remorse?

I'm thinking especially of Amazon's Kindle on the one hand and Barnes & Noble's nook, on the other. Yes, I understand that Apple has come out with something too, but from what I've heard the iPad is higher-priced and more complicated than what I have in mind. Besides, I don'tlike that snarky guy who plays "the Mac" in all those ads, poking fun at dorky PC. SO let's stick with the narrowly-targeted eBook devices for now.

I'm a bibliophile. And, yes, I love the feel and smell of the real thing. But keeping a lot of them takes up a good deal of shelf space. I'm always picking out the ones to which I feel least attached and donating them to a library, school, or other good home. And then regretting the fact, when I say, "Hmmmm, didn't I have a copy of Lawrence Kaplan's biography of Alexander Hamilton around here somewhere? There was a great passage in there about the old Dutch families in the Hudson Valley in revolutionary times. I'm sure I could find the page if only I could find that book." At around that point in my musings I slap my forehead with my hand and realize that this was one of those books I had given away so generously.

So on behalf of preserving space, I might have to sacrifice the physical aspect of bibliphilia, and advance the easy-reference aspect thereof.

A quick and uncritical check of the relevant webpages shows that B&N claims more than 1 million titles available through its nook. Amazon claims 'only' 400,000 through the Kindle. That may mean greater variety through the nook: or it may mean that B&N is hyping its numbers through the inclusion of various non-book titles.

Amazon says the single Kindle can hold a virtual librray of up to 1,500 books. B&N says its nook can hold ... the same number, 1,500.

Anybody know of any other comparative factors I might weigh? What about the frequency with which these things have to be re-charged.


SIferryguy said...

Greetings from NYC. Longtime reader,first time respondant-Russ Jackson by name.I sat next to you while laughing through Herr Wood's German class.

www.mobileread.com - GGGRRRRReat forums for all the individual ereaders.
www.teleread.org - very good news site, and discussions about ebook publishing.
www.calibre-ebook.com - open-source software to convert ebook formats, etal.
These are a good start.

I have an ipod touch that is a more comfortable reader than one would think, especially on the subway and SI ferry.You might consider a Sony ereader in the 6" or 9" size. You can underline and make margin notes.

Your wit remains as endearing as I remember.

SIferryguy said...

E-ink ereader screens have batteries that last generally 8000 page turns or ~2weeks for an avid user.

Christopher said...


Good to hear from you! I lived on Staten Island and regularly took that ferry myself back in the period 1982-83. Ah ... memories.

Yes, of course I remember you and Mr. Wood's classes. "The Woody Woodpecker Show," as I came to think of it.

Thanks for the suggestions about eBooks.

Knowledge is warranted belief -- it is the body of belief that we build up because, while living in this world, we've developed good reasons for believing it. What we know, then, is what works -- and it is, necessarily, what has worked for us, each of us individually, as a first approximation. For my other blog, on the struggles for control in the corporate suites, see www.proxypartisans.blogspot.com.